When the NBA’s postseason began just over a month ago, the Lakers were coming off a shaky 3-5 showing in the summer seeding games, and had roughly the same odds as the Clippers and Bucks to win the 2020 NBA championship, according to most sportsbooks.
Five weeks later, the Clippers and Bucks have been eliminated from title contention, as have many of the teams viewed as second-tier title threats, such as Toronto, Philadelphia, and Houston. The Lakers hold a commanding 2-0 lead over the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, while neither the Heat nor the Celtics have looked especially dominant in the Eastern Finals.
In other words, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the Lakers find themselves in a great position to finish off an impressive playoff run and bring home the franchise’s first championship since 2010. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag currently list the Lakers as -350 favorites, meaning you’d have to risk $350 in order to win just $100 for an L.A. title.
While the Lakers may be the overwhelming favorites for now, it’s a little early to pencil them in as the NBA’s 2020 champions. After all, the Nuggets were just a Davis buzzer-beater away from pulling even at one game apiece in the Western Finals — and even down 2-0, Denver is hardly about to roll over, having already overcome a pair of 3-1 deficits in these playoffs.
If the Lakers can put away the Nuggets, they’ll enter the NBA Finals as heavy favorites, but the Celtics and Heat shouldn’t be overlooked either. Boston dominated Joel Embiid and the Sixers before eliminating the defending-champion Raptors – who had the league’s second-best record this season – in perhaps the most hard-fought series of the postseason.
As for the Heat, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s ankle injury helped them finish off Milwaukee, but they’d played better than the 56-17 Bucks even before Antetokounmpo got hurt. Knocking off the Pacers, Bucks, and Celtics would represent an impressive path to the Finals for Miami.
Either Eastern team will also benefit from playing in the Disney World bubble, where home-court advantage is essentially nonexistent and the Lakers’ regular-season edge wouldn’t give them an extra Finals game at Staples Center. Still, L.A. has shown so far that it doesn’t need the help that home-court advantage provides.
What do you think? Are you confident the Lakers will win the Finals and get LeBron his fourth ring, or will one of the other three teams still alive play spoiler and take this year’s crown?
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